Jay Evensen: Why national monuments are bad for democracy

Return To Article
Add a comment
  • 1Reader Alpine, UT
    Dec. 9, 2017 9:55 p.m.

    Well said, Jay!

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Dec. 7, 2017 9:14 a.m.

    @Freiheit,
    I like Grand Teton NP too. I just pointed out there is a legal limit in Wyoming and Alaska (because of past abuse of AA and yes, because of local over-reaction). It does require Congressional approval in Wyoming and Alaska now (if it's over 5000 acres). That's a fact.

    I'm saying doing that in general (adding oversight for huge designations)... could prevent future dictator-like abuse of the AA in general (not just in Wyoming and Alaska).

    Just something to consider.

    I'm not against National Monuments. I'm against Dictatorial Power.

    IMO There needs to be a provision for oversight (like there is in the rest of our representative government). Checks-and-balances. There is none in the AA currently. We should fix that and make the AA also fit our current form of government (not a Dictatorship).

    I think it's a possible improvement Congress may consider down the road as they consider further limits on impulsive and unlimited dictatorial use of the antiquities act with no oversight.

    Sometimes AA has been used to punish your enemies, or to reward your friends in an election year (Obama's words BTW)

    Needs oversight. We're not a 1-man-government. Needs oversight.

  • Freiheit Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 7, 2017 7:22 a.m.

    2Bits: "Presidential powers under the Act have been reduced twice. The first time followed the unpopular proclamation of Jackson Hole National Monument in 1943. The 1950 law that incorporated Jackson Hole into an enlarged Grand Teton National Park also amended the Antiquities Act, requiring Congressional consent for any future creation or enlargement of National Monuments in Wyoming."

    Local reactions to national monuments, national parks, etc. have often been negative. The 1950 law regarding Wyoming was the result of just such a knee-jerk reaction. Ask most people in Wyoming today if they want Grand Teton reduced and you will get a resounding negative. One of the leaders of the opposition in the 40's has openly stated that opposition to the expansion was one battle he is now glad he lost. Do we have to wait 70 years or so for the same realization in Utah?

  • hbeckett Colfax, CA
    Dec. 6, 2017 8:00 p.m.

    what happened to the idea of having the natives have a reservation land that they controll it was set up that way many years ago why not now if they have lived on and worked that land that seams like an approach that should satisfy all parties involved maybe but maybe not then the individuals that steal or take items of ancient history can be held liable by the courts.Jay you brought out a great discussion that is serious not laughable area of contention
    thankyou

  • Husker2 Millbrook, AL
    Dec. 6, 2017 3:49 p.m.

    Husker: "They do not represent or defend the local working man or the families who live near the national monuments."

    @Real Maverick: "It's not the federal government's job to provide locals with a living. If those living near these monuments can't make a living, they could always try studying hard at school? They could try making themselves marketable in the 21st century. They could always try moving to where the jobs are. Plenty of people have done this."

    The pronoun "they" in my statement meant companies like Patagonia. Not the federal government. Regardless, if you really believe your comment then the same could be said of local governments, including schools. How do you feel about charter schools again??

    "Just because you live near a national monument and can't find a job because you're too lazy doesn't mean that we need to get rid of the Antiquities Act."

    Wow, so now the locals near BENM are just lazy. Farmers and ranchers are just useless, huh?? And I thought liberals were the kind, compassionate people. Who said anything about getting rid of the Antiquities Act??

  • FT salt lake city, UT
    Dec. 6, 2017 3:04 p.m.

    @2bits
    Get Congress to approve your suggestions. Which given Rob Bishop's track record is highly unlikely. In the mean time a reduction to any monument has never been challenged in court, until now. The Indians and environmentalist have the law and the resources on their side. This will be tied up in court for years and in the mean time the land will be managed as it was. Trump's theater on Monday was just a political show for the gullible.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Dec. 6, 2017 1:45 p.m.

    It's already illegal to use the Antiquities Act in Wyoming and Alaska without approval from Congress. Google it. It's true.

    Wikipedia - "Reduction in powers" section:
    "Presidential powers under the Act have been reduced twice. The first time followed the unpopular proclamation of Jackson Hole National Monument in 1943. The 1950 law that incorporated Jackson Hole into an enlarged Grand Teton National Park also amended the Antiquities Act, requiring Congressional consent for any future creation or enlargement of National Monuments in Wyoming. The second time followed Jimmy Carter's use of the Act to create fifty-six million acres of National Monuments in Alaska. The Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act requires Congressional ratification of the use of the Antiquities Act in Alaska for withdrawals of greater than 5,000 acres"...

    Maybe that needs to become the process in general (instead of just in Wyoming and Alaska).

    I think it's a good process. Any designation over 5000 acres has to be approved by Congress first. Keeps Presidents from over-reaching.

    The Bears Ears over-reach was 2,112 mi²
    Grand Staircase was ‎1,880,461 acres
    Way over the 5000 acre limit

  • wasatchcascade Salt Lake City, Utah
    Dec. 6, 2017 1:03 p.m.

    National monuments and their legacy; most of our national parks in their infancy were monuments. And I suppose there are some out there that have disdain for both national parks and national monuments? The event on Monday at the capitol was a "campaign rally" and show; the antiquities act allows a president to designate landscapes, but there is no provision in the act to extinguish or decrease. Statutory changes would have to be approved by the House and Senate and after that, a signature by the president. The just filed law suits are a precursor to remind that "boundaries" don't change until the correct process arrives. Where is the greater frustration and angst though - the 20 yrs ago GSENM, the failed PLI, the more recent BE Monument, or the declaration by Trump/Hatch that the boundaries were going to shrink? It all depends on the "angle and view" of the participant, the connection & relevance to the properties and/or the near complete disaffection of the viewer. You put nature in a bottle, watch it on television or pay attention to the dynamic of ecosystems - that can dazzle with wonder and awe - if the heart and mind are open to it.

  • The Real Maverick Spanish Fork, UT
    Dec. 6, 2017 12:48 p.m.

    @ Husker

    "They do not represent or defend the local working man or the families who live near the national monuments."

    It's not the federal government's job to provide locals with a living. If those living near these monuments can't make a living, they could always try studying hard at school? They could try making themselves marketable in the 21st century. They could always try moving to where the jobs are. Plenty of people have done this.

    Just because you live near a national monument and can't find a job because you're too lazy doesn't mean that we need to get rid of the Antiquities Act.

    What next, get rid of Medicare/Medicaid because modern-day medicine has put the lecher industry out of business?

  • Shaun Sandy, UT
    Dec. 6, 2017 12:33 p.m.

    A solution to the antiques act is to define the maximum area of protection and how many designations can be made by the president in the area in one term. Or the president can designate an area for protection of a certain size but if they want a larger protection they must seek it through congress.

    Plenty of workable solutions in my opinion.

  • Prometheus Platypus Orem, UT
    Dec. 6, 2017 11:01 a.m.

    Husker2 -said: "I heard a lot about wealthy corporations wanting to rape the land. I heard nothing about local farmers or ranchers trying to make a living."

    Farmers own the land they work, I have never heard of "land leased for farms" on BLM, so the monument has nothing to do with farming.

    Ranching cattle is another matter, one in which more permits are available then are being leased or used, so this is simply not true, cattle ranchers lose nothing.

    Extractive industries are far different than local ranchers, as they in general, are not locals and care not for the land or the local economy, only in that it facilitates their need, when they have takin what they can, they leave super sites for the taxpayer to enjoy.

  • NoNamesAccepted St. George, UT
    Dec. 6, 2017 11:00 a.m.

    @Prometheus Platypus:

    Sure, and let's put homosexual marriage up for a national vote to see how that turns out. Or maybe elective abortion. Or how about border security and immigration law enforcement?

    Why is "rights cannot be voted away" such a good slogan when it benefits the left, and so very hated when the majority takes a more right-wing path?

    Our form of government includes a careful--imperfect, perhaps--but careful balance between majority rule and protecting minority rights. Lifetime appointments for federal judges is but one small aspect of that. Giving every State, regardless of population, equal representation in the Senate is a key component. So too is giving small population States unequal representation in the Electoral College election of President.

    So let's have the national vote, in Congress where it belong.

    Remember, "one man, one vote" is an extra-constitutional judicial over-reach in reaction to racism.

    "Equal footing" is a solid constitutional principle that greatly undermines the entire foundation on which massive federal control of lands inside Western States rests.

    Why should NYC rule the nation any more than England should rule a continent?

  • GaryO Virginia Beach, VA
    Dec. 6, 2017 10:55 a.m.

    " . . . national monuments are bad for democracy?"

    I don't think so. The antiquities act has been around for over a hundred years, and our representative democracy has been strong since that time.

    It is only after the destruction of the Fairness Doctrine by the Reagan administration and the subsequent deterioration of the GOP, now riddled with lies and liars, that our democracy has begun to struggle.

    It looks to me like the GOP is bad for democracy.

    "I am the world's greatest person . . ." - Donald J Trump

  • FT salt lake city, UT
    Dec. 6, 2017 10:32 a.m.

    Jay, what world are you living in? The public land issue has been in play since the end of WW2. What Clinton and Obama did was legal. Opponents never challenged their executive orders. Was it right? That depends upon your point of view. What Trump did was clearly illegal and their is no law created by Congress to support his actions. It will be challenged in court. Congress could fix all this mess but they haven't.
    The courts and judges will decide given the current laws on the books whose act was legal and I bet instruct Congress to make any changes to the law if they don't like their ruling. That is why the Indian groups and environmentalist are feeling fairly comfortable on the chances of victory.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Dec. 6, 2017 10:25 a.m.

    Just change the name. Instead of national monuments, call them confederate monuments. The president will be all over it.

  • Husker2 Millbrook, AL
    Dec. 6, 2017 10:14 a.m.

    From the article: "I heard a lot about wealthy corporations wanting to rape the land. I heard nothing about local farmers or ranchers trying to make a living."

    We also don't hear anything about companies like Patagonia who profit by promoting their image of being "environmentally conscious" when much of that money goes straight into Yvon Chouinard's pocket. Even worse, they project false information to enhance their image and profits. They do not represent or defend the local working man or the families who live near the national monuments.

  • Prometheus Platypus Orem, UT
    Dec. 6, 2017 10:01 a.m.

    I'll play, lets put it to a national vote, and let the majority decide what federal lands should be turned into Monuments or National Parks. I can hear the whining already about how unfair it is for city folks to decide what rural areas will be protected.

    Listen to the Trump fans, they hate the idea that the majority didn't vote for donald and make up all kinds of nonsense to defend their dear leader.

    The problem is proximity does not equal ownership.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Dec. 6, 2017 9:53 a.m.

    RE: "Why national monuments are bad for democracy"...
    ---
    National Monuments are not bad for democracy. But one person dictatorial power is.

    If Presidents didn't abuse this power... it would be fine. But we know they have.

    NMs are great. Dictatorial power and abuses of the Antiquities Act are. Clinton's or Trump's.

    There should be some oversight for the Antiquities Act, to avoid abuse. Currently there is Zero oversight. So it can be abused with impunity.

    We don't need a National Monument war between the two parties (one president undoing what the previous president did, and the next president re-doing what his predecessor un-did and so on and so forth).

    That's what happens when you over-reach. There is backlash.

    If not for the previous over-reach there would be no over-reaction Monday.

    The problem is the state of our politics in America today.

    If we could be more centrist, and work on changes and use compromise until there is consensus (what the founding fathers wanted)... there would be less over-reach, and less over-reaction.

    There's nothing wrong with National Monuments. There is something wrong with one-person dictatorial power IMO.

  • stevo123 Driggs, ID
    Dec. 6, 2017 9:50 a.m.

    Senator Bennett and Jim Matheson put together a plan for Washington county that worked. Mr Bishop's PLI plan died in Daggett county when the newly elected county commissioners vetoed a brokered deal. The heels have been dug in ever since. It would be nice yo get back on track.